Commentary

Thomas Elias

Columnist and author Thomas Elias writes a syndicated politcal column appearing twice weekly in 70 newspapers around California, with a circulation of over 1.89 million. He has won numerous awards from organizations like the National Headliners Club, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, and the California Taxpayers Association. He has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize in distinguished commentary.

Elias is the author of two books, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It" (now in its third edition; also published in Japanese and recently optioned for a television movie) and "The Simpson Trial in Black and White," co-authored with the late Dennis Schatzman. He is currently at work on a third book about his experiences with kidney failure and later as a kidney transplant recipient.

Elias was the West Coast correspondent for Scripps Howard Newspapers for 15 years before he began writing books. Among many other assignments in that position, he covered eight national political conventions; every planetary fly-by; the rise of the AIDS plague; several World Series, Olympics and Super Bowls; two papal visits; several national political campaigns; as well as conducting numerous investigative projects. His work has resulted in the unseating of two judges; helped create a major state park and cause significant changes in the federal treatment of immigrants. A former Asociated Press staff writer, he keeps his hand in spot news and feature reporting by serving between book projects as a regular contributor to Long Island Newsday and the national Cox News Service. He has made numerous radio and television appearances on such programs as the Today Show, CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News, Larry King Live, Rivera Live and C-Span's Book TV.

Elias holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from Stanford University. He has taught journalism at the University of Southern California, California State University at Northridge, and two other Cal State campuses. He has been honored for his volunteer work by the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, the National Kidney Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League. He serves on the national advisory boards of the Polycystic Kidney Research Foundation and the Center for Talented Youth, John Hopkins University.

Elias lives in Santa Monica, Calif., with his wife Marilyn, a health and science reporter for USA Today. They have one son, Jordan.

Southern California Focus

During his first eight years as governor in the 1970s, Jerry Brown was so imaginative about what state government could do that he won the nickname “Gov. Moonbeam.” It took Brown, then in his 30s, to theorize that a state could launch its own communication satellite. And that a governor should deal person-to-person with presidents and prime ministers of foreign countries. Common-sense ideas today, but visionary in the 1970s.

No candidate likes to admit in October that he has virtually no chance to win the office he’s running for. So it is today with Neel Kashkari, the Republican nominee — read: sacrificial lamb — who is Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election opponent.

Sighs of relief were audible all around California the other day, when the embattled, disgraced Michael Peevey announced he would not seek reappointment to a third six-year term as president of the powerful California Public Utilities Commission.

There is little doubt about why the putative “Six Californias” ballot initiative that Silicon Valley billionaire Tim Draper hoped to put on the 2016 ballot failed: It was and is a terrible idea.

The outcome is rarely certain when state government asks voter permission to spend $7.5 billion of the taxpayers’ money, but it’s also unusual for a ballot proposition to win as wide a range of support as Proposition 1 already had more than a month before the Nov. 4 Election Day.

It was lawbreaking, both proven and alleged, that ended the Democrats’ supermajority in the state Senate. Republicans and their efforts had nothing to do with it.

For three months, the time bomb that is the Vergara vs. California court decision lurked in the background as two of this fall’s major political contests gradually took shape.

There are very few Americans who need welfare and government support less than Elon Musk, the hyper-creative head of the Tesla Motors electric car company, the Space X rocketry and satellite hoisting firm and Solar City renewable energy company.

There are still skeptics who maintain the California economy remains in recession, that talk of economic recovery amounts to whistling past the proverbial graveyard when unemployment remains above 7 percent.

For many years, it was valid to urge that students take a good look around as they entered high school in the fall — because more than one-third of their first-day classmates would drop out before graduation day four years later.

When California voters adopted the “top two” primary election system four years ago via Proposition 14, they meant to make state politics more moderate, to ease some of the sharp divides between Republicans and Democrats that led to legislative and budgetary gridlock.

No one knows better than Democratic Party politicians that voters who tend to support them are at high tide in November general elections during even-numbered years, when offices like president, governor and U.S. senator are at stake.

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